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B&G Oysters - Are you kidding me!?

Caveat: Their oysters might be really good, this review is about their lobster roll.

Some days back I went to B&G Oysters to try out their lobster roll which I ordered together with a salad. 10 minutes and $50 (!) later I am quite sure that this meal could be the worst value for money I ever had.

Let's start with the salad, which cost around $15 and was - not a joke here - roughly 5 or 6 slices of almost tasteless tomato sprinkled with almost tasteless olive oil and topped with a homeopathic amount of basil. I'm guessing this dish literally took less than half a minute to make and its ingredients were almost surely worth less than $0.50.

Now the cold lobster roll was kinda OKish, but tasted more like dressing than lobster, and came with a large amount of lukewarm fries, ketchup, pickles and salad. Don't get me wrong, that lobster roll was not bad, but definitely not good enough for $27. Infact, just for comparison $27 buys me a whole lobster dinner at a place like Yankee lobster which even tough far from perfect definitely tastes better. Add a little drive and $27 buys me 2 small lobsters at Roy Moore's in Rockport which are a whole magnitude more tasty.

Again, if that lobster roll was supreme I would happily pay even more than $27, but for the kind of SUBPAR quality you get, and also the kinda snotty attitude of the waiters paying $50 for a light salad and a below par lobster roll is just stupid and I surely won't do it again.

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  1. LOL I haven't been back for years ever since my first visit and the wine pour left me with three solid swallows to hourd with my meal. It was such a small pour with such a large tarriff, that I actually counted my sips. Although I am a fan of some of Babs from Southies stuff, she does have a little bit of the I'm from the projects and ganna rip you off thang going on.

    1. hate to harp on a familiar trope, but you could go over to neptune oyster in the north end and spend 100usd per person without even trying and endure their attitude at the same time.
      in fact it has come to my attention that with the recommendations on this board for neptune, b&g oyster,and i.c.o.b. that people have a hell of a lot more money than i do for food that is cheaper and better at home.
      a freind was talking about a roasted lobster dish at i.c.o.b. at work the other day that sounded great, when he told me it was 55 dollars, i actually fell out of my chair.
      far be it for me to tell people how to spend their money, and, thank god, i can take or leave fish in general, but it seems to me that the mark-up on seafood in this town rivals wine.

      5 Replies
      1. re: hyde

        amen Hyde, I had $30 one day to spend on lunch ...so walked over to Neptune thinking I could get a nice treat for lunch insted of just spending $5 on lunch, and splurge.....$11 for a (rather thin) bown of chowder, and then a few raw oysters, and I was out of loot :( ....ah well, the good life ain't for me....off to Umberto's for a real deal!

        1. re: devilham

          i have not been in a while but it seems to me the last time i went to peach farm in chinatown friends ordered cantonese lobster and a whole steamed fish with ginger and scallion (blackfish, maybe?) and white rice, the whole thing cost around 50usd and fed four of us until stuffed. in a prep that you could not duplicate at home. i just dont get why a simple order of fried clams has to cost 30+ dollars,.

          but like i said, its no big deal to me, i say leave them all in the ocean. its fairly clear to me at 54 that we have fished out the ocean and are leaving none for our kids. remember my mom getting FREE cod with purchase of other seafood. so common they would GIVE it away. that was only 40 years ago, not long in cold eye of history.

          1. re: devilham

            i agree with you on N.O. being overly pricey. definitely, and i am not a fan of that chowder. but for $16, i think, that Vitello tonnato sandwich is a killer. just a suggestion for if you ever decide to try it again.

            1. re: devilham

              Traditionally, chowder is a thin soup, and I think they capture that successfully. Neptune serves one of my three favorites chowders.

          2. Man that picture looks amazing! I've always been a big fan of B&G, but no one could ever argue that it's a bargain!

            4 Replies
            1. re: Blumie

              As i said in the original post, I cannot judge the Oysters, but the salad was simply BAD and the lobster roll OK, but massively overpriced.

              Let me add that I really don't care too much about prices, and *if* their lobster roll was awesome I would not mind to pay even more, but it was not awesome, so charging almost $30 for it feels simply wrong.

              B & G Oysters
              550 Tremont street, Boston, MA 02118

              1. re: Scharn

                doesnt look very amazing to me. so they put a little green garnish on top of the overpriced roll. now this is a roll...http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwny/217...
                $18 last time i checked.

                1. re: Scharn

                  It shrunk too I think...we haven't gone there for years but went again when some out-of-town visitors came over and it looked smaller than I remember...
                  Yep, definitely overpriced...the Neptune one is slightly more interesting because of the brioche roll, but other entrees I've had there were just ehhh....

                  However, I will say that we do love ICOB...razor clams and the lobster roe pasta dish (though there wasn't enough pasta) were both excellent...

              2. I agree, it's a good lobster roll, but just not worth $27, even with the very good fries and those delicious bread and butter pickle slices. For the money, I'd rather have a lobster roll at Legal Harborside for $18 and a great view to boot, and oysters that are just as good for 50 cents less per oyster.

                But for some reason I still go to B&G and I still order the lobster roll once in a while.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Mike5966

                  there are lots of places that have oysters at 1.00 such as mondays at Rialto, Island Creek Oysters. This is clearly a loss leader as they cost 1.50 at New Deal a couple of weeks ago.

                  Island Creek Oyster Bar
                  500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                2. Thank God I live in Maine where $15 gets me this at Red's....

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: tamerlanenj

                      You must have eaten some lobster off that - I can actually see the bun!

                      1. re: nsenada

                        I have to respectfully disagree - we drove out of our way to get a lobster roll at Red's and both my husband and I agreed that it was the worst one that we'd ever had - lobster was overcooked and not very flavorful. Hard to do in Maine - we'd cooked our own the day before and it was amazing...

                    2. Ok, I don't have a lot of comments but wanted to say that "homeopathic amount of basil" was hilarious.

                      To make this on-topic, I will say that I was at B&G a couple of months ago and was extremely underwhelmed. I did like the fried oyster app, but had the lobster BLT for lunch and it was really meh. Almost tasted off but not enough to complain about. Service was meh- again, not enough to complain about, but nothing really positive either- a teeny bit smug. Bill was pretty high- $100 or so, if I recall.

                      I am not hurrying back. There are other places that offer good oysters.

                      1. i tried alive and kicking's (cambridge) lobster sandwich on white toast last week. $13.00. i really enjoyed it and it was a great value. if you're a fan of lobster, and not looking for "the perfect traditional lobster roll"...go! yeah - the place is a total dive, but so what...

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: BoDubya

                          Oh yeah. Plus one on the Alive and Kicking lobster sandwich on scali!

                          1. re: yumyum

                            I have gotten that sandwich before, and my memory was that it was kind of a joke in terms of the amount of lobster (or maybe I just got a skimped version). I just seem to recall like 6 nuggets of meat, being totally swallowed up by the amount of bread.

                        2. I once sent the lobster roll back at B&G after a bite or two. I couldn't believe how cold and tasteless it was for the price. If the price is high, so are my expectations. It was a case, as hyde mentions, of something that I've made better at home.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: silver queen

                            kudos to you! when it is fresh from the ocean and freshly shucked it is amazing. otherwise I agree, send it back!

                            1. re: Bellachefa

                              I was at Neptune Sunday night and had a great meal - hamachi and salmon crudo and fish fish tacos. The waiter suggested a wonderful wine when our first selection was unavailable. It was pricey but worth every penny. We go there frequently and are never disappointed with the food or the service. The 90 minute wait suggests that others feel the same. I also enjoy the cheaper lobster roll at Legal but not nearly as much as the plumper one at Neptune. We can all make meals at home that are cheaper than those we eat in restaurants and some of us can even make meals that taste better but that should not be a factor in judging restaurants.

                              1. re: greenstate

                                eh, Neptune ... I still haven't been able to sit down at a table there. My last attempt took 3 hours waiting with no phone call. I'm still burned from that wait (and a grumbling stomach) that I wonder if the lobster roll is worth giving N.O. another shot. I'd do take-out, but I don't work or live anywhere close to the North End.

                                1. re: tammyh

                                  Numerous reports of really lousy service there, me included.

                                  Greenstate can have the joint as far as I am concerned.

                                  They were so awful to me there I never pass up an opp. to restate the fact that the owner is NOT a nice guy.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    I've seen your dealbreaker experience at Neptune referenced in a couple of threads, but missed the one where you recounted the whole thing. Could you link to it or summarize here? I'm kind of dying to hear it (I realize this is off-topic in a B&G thread).

                                    1. re: robwat36

                                      There are numerous others who have had the same experiences if you do a little googling.

                                      I found my old post just by googling striperguy neptune.


                                      There are probably half a dozen other threads independent of mine where folks discuss the same type of thing. He is also fairly notorious for upselling on the wine: "oh you don't want to drink that. This is really good stuff. As he pushes a bottle not necessarily better, but definitely 3X as pricey.

                                2. re: greenstate

                                  @ greenstate
                                  that meals we can make ourselves, at home, for a third of the price should not be criteria for judging restaurants?? why the hell not? if im going to get reamed for 200usd a couple, at a place where they make me feel like im doing them a favor, it better be trancendant food. like i stated above, you obviously have a great deal more money than i do to eat out. i find this place overpriced , snotty and crowded. i will never go back and dont believe i am alone. and i will continue to judge restaurants by their ability to cook better than i.

                                  1. re: hyde

                                    My very definition of a worthy restaurant meal is in fact something that I CAN'T do better at home.

                                    If I can do it better then the chef ain't worth his/her apron.

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      From a business standpoint, it makes sense to have dishes that are low in ingredient cost and takes little time to make. But then, those dishes better be made well if it's that easy to put together.

                                      As a customer, I personally look for dishes I can't make at home (due to complexity, amount of cooking time, or lack of rare ingredients). I'm not going to pay that much more for pure convenience and atmosphere.

                                      On the other hand, now I get pretty indecisive (and disheartened) with ordering when I keep thinking "I can make everything on the menu myself" ...

                                      1. re: tammyh

                                        Let me clarify: my point, although muddied by my own statement, is that almost everything is cheaper to make at home and THAT should not be a factor in judging restaurants. I threw in the statement about some of us being able to make meals that taste better as an after thought. I definitely expect the food to be better than my own when I dine out and as a fairly accomplished cook, I am frequently disappointed. That is why I love Neptune; they prepare seafood in creative and delicious ways that I wouldn't do at home. You are certainly correct that if they make you feel like you are doing them a favor, then you should not eat there. I have never had that feeling there and I go there regularly.

                            2. I haven't been on Chowhound in awhile, but wanted to come and see what folks were saying about B&G Oysters after yet another (and by far the worst) mediocre experience I've had with their dinner menu.

                              Yelp shows that it has 4-stars, and people there seem to love it, but my dinner the other night was so bland, so frustratingly mediocre that I had to see if anyone else felt this way.

                              When I first went to B&G 4 years ago, I was delighted - the food was delicious, atmosphere fun and intimate, and I loved the open kitchen concept. Maybe my tastes have changed, but the last 3-4 times that I've had a dinner entree there, I've been overwhelmed by its mediocrity. Nothing overtly wrong, but I can make something better at home without much effort (and, for the record, I'm in the camp that insists that a restaurant cook either better or more innovatively than I can at home, otherwise, I would just stay in and do it myself).

                              In this last case, I had the seared blue cod with chanterelles, and turnips in a sweet pea broth. First off, the presentation was lovely; that's clearly what they prioritize. The food however, felt more like a tasteless re-fueling exercise than fine-dining. They clearly skipped all seasoning on the broth and the cod. I love mushrooms in a near-fanatical way and tend to bore people with the distinctions in creaminess or earthiness, but I couldn't even TASTE the chanterelles. They were whole, but completely flavorless. I imagine that the broth was meant to taste of spring peas (why in the fall?), but it was thickened water, as far as I could tell.

                              I tried to save the experience with the raspberry tartlet, which was another mistake. The raspberries themselves were plump and luscious, but the pastry cream was runny and the tart itself was hard and brittle, like they had just taken it out of a walk-in. Something I could forgive in a lesser restaurant, but not from B&G and not at those prices.

                              Also, and this is just me being critical, but we had a pretty good view of the kitchen, and I didn't see one cook over the age of 24. Young cooks can be brilliant, but I think this group needed a bit more adult supervision and discipline. The menu looked well put together, but it was the execution that flopped.

                              I still love their oysters, and they're too close to my apartment to completely boycott, but I won't be going back for dinner.

                              14 Replies
                                1. re: BesottedGourmet

                                  My bs detector went off when I read "blue cod," obviously meant to convey a better cod. I never heard of it til I just googled it. Comes from New Zealand. We get great non blue cod 30-40 miles from Boston..which is awfully good.

                                  1. re: 9lives

                                    You're absolutely right! My food nerd comes in fits and starts, and I confess that I didn't know anything about blue cod until you mentioned it. Why source cod from New Zealand?? So, the execution and planning flopped :-)

                                    1. re: 9lives

                                      Come on 9... I'd much rather eat Blue Cod, 4 days out of the water, (at best) for $40+ an entree, prepped by clueless 20 somethings, then get fresh local chow minus the Lynch (leave your wallet at the door) we don't really care so much about anything else dealio.

                                      SRSLY, lighten up ;-)

                                      1. re: StriperGuy


                                        Here's a few "non blue cod, " though the ice is blue. Maybe that confused them?.:)

                                        1. re: 9lives

                                          Nice fish, maybe if you take them out do a Lynch joint, they will be sad (blue) too.

                                          I actually went out for Tuna a couple of weeks back.

                                          Skunked, but a friend of the captains gave me a whole 25 pound bluefin loin at the dock. It was ridonculously tasty.

                                          He had caught a 125 pound football and knew he would not eat it all...

                                            1. re: 9lives

                                              thats a 500 dollar piece of fish at b&g or N.O.

                                              1. re: hyde

                                                At $20 a pound plus RETAIL it's more like $500... Steaked out resto pricing even more.

                                                I also got a 4 pound slab of Toro... some still in the freezer...

                                                  1. re: typhoonfish

                                                    Brought in a 500 lb. bluefin to Newburyport two weeks ago.
                                                    It weighed in just under 400 lbs. after it was prepared for auction.
                                                    Going out one more time this weekend. The warm water is bringing the big fish closer to the shore.

                                          1. i am so happy to have found your review! we (me and my 11 year old) saw b&g's lobster roll on a tv show we were watching on netflix. since we are headed to boston this summer (from florida) we are making a food map and my daughter wanted to add this place. she's asked at least 5 times if it is on the list.
                                            our search for a good lobster roll will continue. :) thanks!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: raygunclan

                                              hi ray, from the CH search i did, the 'best lobster roll' spots that are easily accessible in Boston are Yankee Lobster, Hook Lobsters and Neptune Oyster.(There was a visitor last yr. who reported that she tried the lobster roll at 2 places- Island Creek Oyster Bar (ICOB) and Yankee Lobster and she liked YL the best.[but ICOB is a great spot for oysters and other seafood dishes.]) The first 2 are tres casual or outside and N.O. is tiny, inside, crowded, fun. This thread mentions lobster spots but mostly fried seafood places:

                                              This board is really good at helping visitors, so don't forget to ask for feedback on places that interest you (because sometimes the media covered restnts are alot of hype when there is better quality around the corner!)